Aren’t you relieved to get past the annual flurry of media bites that drag us through a retrospective of the past year as if we hadn’t lived through it too? How about advice ad nauseam for resolutions and goals?
I was talking to God down at the lake on the first day of January (me and God are tight and on a first name basis) and I began the conversation by wishing God a Happy New Year. It made both of us laugh. The Creator-of-all-that-is does not keep time, probably doesn’t know what time is. Time is one of our constructs. We take a big stick of timelessness and chop it up like a carrot into bits and pieces that are meaningful for us. I mean, who else in the universe takes note of when the Earth has made of a full revolution around the sun? Not even the sun takes notice.
So time is our thing because we like to measure stuff. We like to categorize everything into little groups too. Order is what we want, the way we categorize animals for instance: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. If you don’t fall into one of those you don’t exist. Like time, it is another way we measure.
I shouldn’t be so snarky. When we lose all sense of time is when we can’t live alone and take care of ourselves anymore. If we lose either short-term or long-term memory we are in big trouble because both of those deal with our ability to use time for measurement. While learning how to be in the moment is a healthy practice, if that is all we can do then we’ve become a rabbit or a dog.
So now that I think about it measuring with time is important. Maybe not the way our media-feeds hype the end of one year and the beginning of the next, but in the sense of our capacity for memory, expectation, and anticipation. I call this notion of time The Blueberry Principle.
We know when blueberry season is — the only time we can get fresh blueberries. Early July to mid-August. What a difference between fresh blueberries we can pick from the bushes (or buy on the roadside) and the stuff that comes from halfway around the world in mid-winter. The same is true for strawberries grown around here from early June to early July. Big juicy, red, and sweet the local strawberries gush with flavor unlike the out-of-season ones sitting around on a Wegmans shelf. Perhaps all I need to say about this is “tomatoes.” There are the fresh ones from the Farmer’s Market and there are the tasteless styrofoam ones that are grown out of season and sent thousands of miles to be sold.
I like to measure time by ripening. “When are you going to be a grandparent?” When the time is ripe for them. “When will you write another novel?” When the story has ripened and I can finish it. There are seasons in one’s life and moments of ripening when it is a good time to do or create something. Ripening is a way to measure time too, knowing the seasons of our lives and harvesting opportunities when they are ripe — not before nor after. What time is it? Hmm, what season is it?